Archive for June, 2006

Hacksterpiece Theatre: The Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz, Part 3 (Luigi's Coin Quest)

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]

Greetings! Thanks for joining me once again for Hacksterpiece Theatre. This week, in the concluding segment of the "Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz" series, I'll be examining another incomplete and "lost" DahrkDaiz NES game hack as usual — but this time it's a more recent one starring a certain iconic Italian plumber's green-garbed, typically overlooked brother.

Luigi in the Spotlight


Shortly after completing his 2004 magnum opus, Mario Adventure, DahrkDaiz got straight to work on a totally new hack of Super Mario Bros. 3 which would feature Luigi in the starring role, eschewing the usual Mario vehicle cliché. Luigi's Coin Quest, as it would be titled, would have numerous similarities with his previous SMB3 hack, but would greatly improve upon them. Over the next eight months, only one world of this epic project would be finished. And yet, despite being incomplete, the resulting work is one of the most sophisticated and highly playable examples of sheer technical mastery in the field of NES game hacking that the gaming world has never seen.

[ Continue reading Hacksterpiece Theatre: The Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz, Part 3 (Luigi's Coin Quest) » ]

Retro Scan of the Week: Not so fast, Apple Boy!

Monday, June 26th, 2006
Image Description
Proving once again that there are indeed morons in the world is this scan from a 1982 Apple IIe sales brochure:

[Interior. Well-lit office building.] Larry Anderson, Executive Comptroller of B.G. Enterprises, Inc. (stage right), has spent all morning meticulously entering eleven months of raw sales data into AppleWorks on the firm's new Apple IIe to plot next year's business projections. Enter Bob R. Stevens III, VP of Corporate Sales (stage left), strolling carefree through the office while humming a tune…

"Dum-dee doo doo…hey, what does this button do?"

*Click* [BEEEEP] *CHUNKA CHUNKA CHUNKA*…

"Holy mother of $%&*balls, Bob. I just spent six hours on that!"

… "So I take it that wasn't a good sound?"

[Camera cuts away as we hear the normally reserved Larry punching Bob violently in the face.]

If you use this image in a blog post, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

VC&G's NES DVD Player Hack for Sale on eBay

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

NES DVD Player on eBay"Ok, RedWolf. Now you've gone and done it. Selling out to the Man!" That's me. I've got a lot of clutter to clear and a lot of hungry kitten mouths to feed / fix, so I'm going to be auctioning a series of vintage computing and gaming related items in the coming weeks. The first item on the block is my very own custom NES DVD Player, which I lovingly crafted by hand and featured in an article on this very site back in early March. The article was very popular and I received a number of offers to purchase the unique player. I figured I'd never sell it, so I turned them down. How silly I was — here it is, for sale. I'm not planning on making any more of these, so this is your only chance to get the real thing. Tell all your friends and help me spread the word. It's for a good cause, after all…feline population control. Thanks!

A Peek Inside the Classic Computer Magazine Archive

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

Atari Magazine ArchiveHere's a site worth noting for all you historians out there. For the last ten years, Kevin Savetz has been hard at work transcribing the text of hundreds of vintage computer and video game magazines. Better yet, he's received full permission from the original magazine publishers to provide the articles for free online. And they're all available in the Classic Computer Magazine Archive. Kevin's focus was originally on magazines about Atari consoles and computers, but it's no surprise since the whole operation started out as the "Digital Antic Project," whose aim was to put the entire text of the Atari-centric magazine "Antic" online. In September 2000 he met that goal and soon turned his attention to other magazines like the Atari ST-focused "STart" and multiplatform magazines like "Compute!" and "Creative Computing." Now the site contains articles from nine different publications, either in whole or in part, available for online view.

Kevin loves sending me news of his latest additions (and I'm not complaining), which I've meant to tell you about before. Just this morning he wrote:

AtariMagazines.com has added the full text of 21 more issues of Compute! magazine: Fall 1979 (the first issue!), January 1981, February 1981, March 1981, April 1981, October 1981, December 1981, February 1982, June 1982, July 1982, October 1982, November 1982, January 1983, March 1983, June 1983, August 1983, September 1983, October 1983, September 1989, November 1990, and December 1990.

Published from 1979 through 1994, Compute! was a multiplatform computer magazine covering Atari, Apple, Commodore, Texas Instruments, Timex/Sinclair, and other early personal computers.

If you're the kind of collector / historian who likes to delve deep into the news, thoughts, and reviews of the period, I definitely recommend checking the Archive out. I'd also like to thank Kevin Savetz for providing a valuable service and resource for the vintage computing and gaming enthusiast.

Introducing the New Atari…Cat?

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Atari Cat LogoSometimes it's scary what you can find while randomly browsing the Internet. Case in point, a man's page dedicated to his pet cat named Atari, complete with logo. On the site itself you can peruse various pictures of Atari in different states of play or laziness, as well as actual videos of the "new" Atari in action. (Note: My link above is to a Coral mirror of the site so its poor server doesn't tank in case somebody spreads this around.)

And just so you can get a taste of it without having to leave home (that's about all it's worth anyway), I present to you a screen cap of the main page:

Atari the Cat Site

But it gets even better than this. Turns out that Atari has a bug-eyed sister named Sega. The resemblance to Sega's mascot is startling…

Image Description

If news of a "Nintendo the cat" comes my way, you'll be the first to know. I promise.

This Week's Game Ads A-Go-Go: "It's a Jungle Out There"

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006
Chimplight
This week on Game Ads A-Go-Go, I take a look at some ads featuring animals and blather semi-coherent nonsense about them. Sound like fun? Then check it out.

Retro Scan of the Week: Atari's (Obscure) Supporting Cast

Monday, June 19th, 2006
Atari Supporting Cast
Here's an interesting segment scanned from a 1983 Atari Game Catalog. In it we see various peripherals for Atari home game consoles — most of them obscure, and some never even released.

Highlights include the prototype-only "2600 Keyboard" (at the top, which turns the Atari 2600 into a "real computer") and "2600 Voice Commander" peripherals. Then there's the VCS Cartridge Adapter, which was released but is relatively uncommon as far as I know.

Then we move to the bottom of the scan, which shows the 2600 Trak-Ball Controller, the bulky 2600 Remote Control Joysticks (anybody ever used these?), then a curiosity in the form of the 2600 "Pro-Line" joystick (which, in 1983, predates the release, but not the design of the 7800). Then we move onto the ray-gun-looking "Space Age" joystick and the numeric-keypadish "Kid's Controller" (you know how kids love their numbers!), neither of which I have ever seen in person and don't know if they were actually released. Finally, we come to the 5200 Trak-Ball controller, which was probably the largest, bulkiest console controller devised until the great Steel Battalion fiasco of 2004. Fittingly, this Trak-Ball controller matches the largest, bulkiest console of its day (the Atari 5200) quite nicely.

If you use this image in a blog post, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks — we truly appreciate it.

Hacksterpiece Theatre: The Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz, Part 2 (Pac-Man III and Mega Man Challenge)

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]

Welcome back to Hacksterpiece Theatre, and thanks for joining us for Part 2 of our series on the "Lost Hacks of DahrkDaiz." Last week, we took a look at Mario Seasons, a nifty Super Mario Bros. hack. This week, I'll be showing you a couple more early NES hacks from DahrkDaiz — one of Ms. Pac-Man and another of Mega Man III.

Pac Man III

Pac-Man IIIPac-Man III is an inventive hack of the NES version of Ms. Pac-Man that adds new boards, new colors, new features, and new eyeballs.

Yes, new eyeballs. Ms. Pac-Man has appropriately been changed to Mr. Pac-Man for this hack, but for some reason DahrkDaiz, in his ceaseless quest for NES graphical enhancement perfection, decided to give Pac-Man bulging white eyeballs (if you'll recall, Pac-Man was originally eyeless in the first Pac-Man). After playing this game for about thirty minutes, those disturbingly googly eyes have a startling way of being permanently etched into your brain.

Pac-Man IIINightmares aside, this is a really fun hack. DahrkDaiz designed 32 new levels for a wide-eyed Pac-Man to chomp his way through. Some of them are on the traditional side of things (ho-hum square-ish), while some are quite devious (invisible walls!). Never one to just modify a few tiles and walk away, DD had to provide a completely new feature or two. In this case, he provided a new way to play the levels: on the title screen, you can select either "Linear" play, which takes you through the boards in sequential order, or "Random" play, in which (surprise!) you play the boards in a random order. DD also added a pellet counter in the upper-right portion of the screen which keeps track of how many pellets you have left to eat before completing the board.

I've never been a huge Pac-Man fan, but all these new features combined make Pac-Man III feel like an entirely new game to me that is definitely worth a try. You can download the complete Pac Man III game here. And as always, you will need an emulator to play it (I recommend FCEU for Windows).

Mega Man Challenge

Mega Man ChallengeHonestly, this next hack is nothing too special, but I thought I'd include it for completeness.

DahrkDaiz intended to make Mega Man Challenge into a "Mario Adventure" for Mega Man III. That is, he was going to completely overhaul the game. But for reasons unknown to me, he never got very far. The only stage he finished was the "Snake Man" stage, which has a new level layout with new graphics, an impressive parallax-scrolling background, and a new acorn-dropping enemy. DD also added the ability to switch between your weapons with the select button. Like I said, it's not much. But if you want to give it a try, you can download it here.

(Update 06/15/2006: DahrkDaiz has send me a version of Mega Man Challenge with the Top-Man stage completely redone. However, the Snake Man board is not complete in this version. You can download it here if you're interested in seeing some wicked-cool atmosphertic effects added to Mega Man III.)

In our next episode, I'll be profiling another fun Super Mario Bros. 3 hack by DahrkDaiz that I've never even mentioned before on VC&G. This time we'll get to take control of Luigi and help him find his lost coins…

Have any cool, funny, or weird retro game hacks that you'd like to share? Send 'em along!

Retro Scan of the Week: "Soft Wear Versus Hard Wear"

Monday, June 12th, 2006
Dan Bricklin Shoes Ad
Move over, Michael Jordan. Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of the PC's original killer app, VisiCalc, has something to say about shoes. And he's afraid somebody might steal them.

[ Scanned from Time Magazine, September 26th, 1988 ]

If you use this image in a blog post, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

[Update: 07/21/2011: I asked Dan Bricklin on Twitter how this shoe endorsement deal came about. Did they approach him? His answer: "The ad agency needed a software person, saw a photo of me in the Boston Herald and knew my work and called." He also mentioned that, in addition to Time, the shoe ad ran in Sports Illustrated, and a similar ad ran in the Men's section of the New York Times. ]

This Week's Game Ads A-Go-Go: "Out-Of-Context Game Ad Illustration Face Quiz"

Thursday, June 8th, 2006
Face Quiz
This week on Game Ads A-Go-Go, I've cooked up a little quiz using out-of-context snippets from classic game ads. Take the quiz, and see how well you do!